NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 27 – A team of 30 long-term election observers from the European Union (EU) was deployed to various parts of the country Tuesday to monitor the August 8 General Election.
Speaking during the ceremonial flagging-off, EU Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) Deputy Chief Observer Hannah Roberts said with 41-days to go to the polls, the mission will be following the campaigns and meet election officials and stakeholders up to and beyond Election Day.
“The team is expected to spend about three weeks in the country after elections, after which the team members will be expected to file a final report and make recommendations that will improve Kenya’s electoral system. The team will remain in Kenya until the entire process is exhausted before making its final recommendations and observations,” she told reporters at the Observer Mission Secretariat.
“We always have them in teams of two so that we can have reliable information and a balance of opinion from them. They will be going out and seeing the ground reality of what is happening with this electoral process in Kenya.”
Roberts noted that the EU is committed to giving an important contribution to the electoral process through the Electoral Observation Mission led by Chief Observer Marietje Schaake.
Schaake, who is a Member of the European Parliament, is expected in the country on Thursday for a series of meetings with officials, candidates and other stakeholders, culminating in a news conference officially launching the EU EOM on Monday, July 3.
The long-term observers will be reinforced around Election Day by 32 short-term observers, a delegation of seven members of the European Parliament and representatives of EU Embassies.
Barbara Szlefarska who has been deployed to Machakos said they will be assessing the level of preparedness and commitment for the August polls.
“We will be observing the whole process, using our very well developed methodology. The observation aims at seeing whether you as Kenyans apply your own regulations, refer to the election process and international treaties,” Szlefarska said.
Her colleague, Jan Krezschmar who has been posted to Nyeri, on his part said the posting reflects the EU’s long-term commitment to supporting credible, transparent and inclusive elections in the country.
“If – observer groups – were a formality, I would not be here. We all have jobs back home but we came here because we think what we are doing make sense. We are very eager to contribute towards a peaceful, democratic development in Kenya,” he said.
The EU EOM began observing elections in Kenya in 2002. It has since been engaging in the exercise every five years.
It uses an established methodology for observing elections in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, adopted by the United Nations in 2005.
Its actions are such that it does not legitimise the electoral process nor does it validate the electoral results.
The objective of an observer mission is to verify that the elections are free and fair, or at least credible.
Long-term observers start monitoring months before the election takes place, witnessing voter registration and education; the procurement, design and distribution of election materials; the party nomination process and the campaign.